“We believe the harm has been irreparable and will already have ramifications for decades to come,” [Geoffrey] Shester said. “We’ve basically reduced the carrying capacity of the ecosystem to support the populations of other species that depend on sardines. The more fish we take, the more it is going to make that situation even worse.”
The collapse this year is the latest in a series of alarming die-offs, sicknesses and population declines in the ocean ecosystem along the West Coast. Anchovies, which thrive in cold water, have also declined over the past decade due largely to fluctuating ocean temperatures and a lack of zooplankton, their food of choice.
—Peter Fimrite writing in the San Francisco Chronicle in April, about the Pacific sardine’s population decline, and cancelling the West Coast commercial sardine season.